Thursday, February 03, 2011

Take Nothing for the Journey

February 3, 2011
Thursday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

…[Y]ou have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel. Hebrews 12:22-24

He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick--no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there.” Mark 6:8-10

Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous;
Teach me to serve thee as thou deserves;
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to seek for rest,
To labor and not to seek reward,
Save that of knowing that I do thy will.
St. Ignatius Of Loyola

Our readings for this week continue our journey into Paul’s letter to the Hebrews. The passage today compares and contrasts the covenant of Moses and the covenant of Christ.

According to a note in the New American Bible, Paul claims that the Mosaic covenant originated in fear of God and threats of divine punishment. However, the note points out that the covenant in Christ “gives us direct access to God, makes us members of the Christian community, God's children, a sanctified people, who have Jesus as mediator to speak for us.”

It goes on to point out that “not to heed the voice of the risen Christ is a graver sin than the rejection of the word of Moses. Though Christians fall away, God's kingdom in Christ will remain and his justice will punish those guilty of deserting it.

Finally, the blood of Abel, the first human blood to be shed, is contrasted with that of Jesus that speaks to us “more eloquently.” The NAB notes that “Abel’s blood cried out from the earth for vengeance, but the blood of Jesus has opened the way for everyone, providing cleansing and access to God.”

Access to God is provided once we hear and act on the word of God. The disciples are commissioned in today’s Gospel reading from Mark. They go out into the world taking nothing but their love of the Lord and the lessons he has taught to them. Out in the world is where they are meant to be, not locked in an Upper Room someplace. There, they can bring Christ to dwell with others and to be among the people. Through this mission, the disciples will provide the people they meet with the teaching and healing that will open the path to allow God to dwell with them.

How are you travelling on the path that Jesus cleared – a path which he walks with you – a path that leads to union with God?

As the Gospel points out, it is not enough for us as Christ’s followers to walk that path. This is not a secret trail leading to a private hide-away or country club. This is a path open for all who follow the Word. Therefore, we also must help others find that path and walk with Jesus and us. As you walk on that path, how are you helping Jesus continue to open a direct path to God for others?